Some of you who read my blog may know my political leanings. I did not vote for President Trump. But he is my President. And as a follower of Jesus, I am bidden to pray for him, and I do privately.
Yet, as a follower of Jesus I realize I must pray for him publicly, too.
During the campaign last year, I watched the PBS Frontline documentary The Choice. It was an eye-opening comparison between the childhoods of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. While Clinton’s childhood was marred by alcoholism, abuse and secrecy, Trump’s was stained by a father who showed love only when his son produced. It wasn’t the unconditional love of a parent; it was a transactional love. You succeed, I’ll dole out a measure of love equivalent to your success.
What I see when I look at Trump is someone who has never known love. Or, probably more specifically: Trump shows signs of only knowing transactional love. He knows the feeling of love that comes with the praise of success. He does not know any possibility of loveliness in the messy failure that is real life: not for others, not for himself. For me, loving my enemy begins with seeing the unloved, wounded child. J.R. Daniel Kirk, Patheos, Feb 11
As a former elementary school teacher with over 20 years under my belt, I have seen what this kind of transactional love does to a child, to an adult. And with that experience and observation, with those past relationships, with the amount of unconditional love I poured into those children, I can honestly say that my history and the Spirit’s grace allow me to love the child who Donald Trump was.
Once I see him through those eyes, it becomes easy for me to pray for him. It becomes effortless for me to lift him up and ask for his heart to be open to the gift of unconditional love my Father has to offer. It becomes obvious for me to pray for him to develop an authentic compassion for the people he serves. And yes, I pray deep down he feels a gnawing hunger for the true grace and forgiveness of Christ.
In the transparency of this prayer, of my own ability to offer God’s love and grace through surrender to the Spirit, I am building a small, precarious bridge in the hopes others might join me. Because anger has never moved me; it has only paralyzed me. What moves me is my ability to see someone’s heart and to love generously, wholly and completely. And hopefully to move them with prayer.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your neighbor,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. Pray for those who persecute or torment you. In this way, you reflect God’s image. For He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the kind and cruel. It’s easy to love the lovable, anybody can do that. If you simply greet those who greet you, any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:43-48)